It’s no secret that the plant-based market has grown dramatically over recent years; where once there were limited options for customers with these food requirements – now alternatives are available far and wide.
At Meadow Foods, we recognise emerging trends, which is why in 2020 we announced we would be investing £4m into a segregated facility at our Chester site, to begin producing alternative plant-based milks, sour cream, yogurts, and custard.
But where did the growth come from, and what can we expect to see as we move forward over the coming years?
A poll of 2079 UK adults by YouGov showed that around 4% were hoping to give Veganuary a go in 2022, suggesting that a total of 2.7 million people would join in this year, compared to 2021’s 500,000 people that did so (source: Truly Experiences)! However, you don’t need data to see that what was only an emerging trend several years ago, is now an influential way of life, shaping everything from the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) we see on the shelves, to the dishes offered in restaurants.
The plant-based industry is not just here to stay, it is here to grow – and as ingredients manufacturers, this is something we continue to consider in all of our product development. Most recently, Meadow Foods launched a range of alternative ‘Yoat’ yogurts into the foodservice sector under the Plant & Co brand, you can find out more about this on our website.
Our research and that of Innova Market Insights’ continues to suggest that taste and texture is key to the consumer experience and that sensory exploration has more recently emerged as a rising trend in food and drink (source: The Food People). This is why, at Meadow Foods, when developing our ingredients and products, we innovate with taste and texture at the forefront of operations, achieving like-for-like feel without compromising on taste. How do we achieve this? With a bespoke blend of oats and rice developed by our New Product Development (NPD) team. But the innovation doesn’t stop there, Meadow Foods has also developed a number of plant-based inclusions options under the Nimbus Foods brand, including the likes of traditional favourites such as honeycomb and sugar strands, plus more original offerings such as our varying flavours and colours of ‘fudj’.
The availability of plant-based products on the shelves has been steady over recent years but we predict that more businesses and public sector organisations will expand their offerings to consider the alternatives market. For example, plant-based options on hospital menus or in schools are now essential, and as the industry expands, it’s only natural that patrons and users will expect more variety. At Meadow Foods, our Plant & Co ‘Yoat’ yogurts will be supplied to these sectors and in 2022 and beyond, we see this as growing exponentially.
As the plant-based sector diversifies, we see a need for suppliers to improve what they already have available. The technologies are now in place to replicate more realistic tastes and textures for alternative ingredients, so as the consumer’s tastebuds become savvier – organisations need to adapt in line with this. As we continue to serve our customers the highest quality ingredients, our Customer Innovation Centre in Peterborough ensures that we’re consistently honing our recipes to ensure our produce is of the best quality it can be too.
Finally, operating within the toppings and inclusions industry also, we definitely see potential for this industry to grow too. As alternatives offerings continue to diversify due to increasing demand, there is a need to make products not only more creative, but more aligned to what’s on the shelves for those who have a non-vegan diet. Our wide range of plant-based toppings at Nimbus remain to be popular and we continue to innovate in this area. It’s important we offer both flavours and textures that consumers know and love, whilst also offering up different products too, to compliment a product and ensure it is perfected for the customer. Our plant-based product portfolio includes the likes of:
Which can be added to or used in products such as cakes, biscuits, ice cream, to offer a more indulgent offering to the vegan or vegetarian customer.
If you would like to discover more about Meadow Foods, and sample our ingredients, you can do so by contacting our customer service team. Or keep up to date on the latest industry and company news on our Twitter and LinkedIn.